Gears

The School Culture Survey Template

Want to take the pulse of your district's culture? Start from this free, research-based template.


John Jennings

Champion of Culture



The importance of a positive school culture can't be overstated. It's the key to a passionate, high-performing team, an effective learning environment, and a stronger community. Without it, even the most well-intentioned plans are doomed to fail. 

But how can you tell whether your district is on the right track, or where gaps are starting to form? Unless you're getting honest feedback from every person at every level, it just won't be possible. 

To that end, we've created a survey template based on a meta-analysis of existing school culture research. The survey covers five core elements of culture, as reflected in student achievement and job satisfaction studies: 
  • Shared Mission
  • Leadership
  • Learning Environment
  • Communication
  • Growth and Development
   

 

Analyzing the Results

It's one thing to obtain feedback, but what you do with that information is ultimately what matters. We've pored over the expected results to arrive at a three-tiered evaluation matrix to help you identify action items based on your culture score.  
 

What Does Your Score Mean?

Culture Tiers


 
30-89: Time for a Turnaround
Summary
If you fall in this group, you were likely aware of a problem before you sent out the survey. Your situation is not unsalvageable, but you do have some work ahead of you and you will need some help from the people around you.

Action Items
  • Collaborate on a triage process. Not only will this help you identify which areas are in need of immediate improvement, it will also demonstrate your awareness of the issues and commitment to seeing them resolved.
  • Acknowledge past mistakes and give people hope for the future. This sounds simple, but it's often one of the biggest hurdles in getting a culture shift off the ground. You'll never move forward if you don't publicly recognize the mistakes of the past and start planting the seeds for change.
  • Mobilize a task force. Your superintendent should be the face and voice of these efforts, but you'll need feedback and buy-in from the business office, the technology department, building-level leadership, school office staff, teachers, support staff, parents, students, community leaders, and more. This is a team effort, and one of your first steps should be to name some captains who will serve as representatives for their respective groups.
 
90-119: Middle of the Pack
Summary
More than 60% of all respondents are expected to fall within this range. It's a good indication that you're doing many things well, but you should walk away from this process with some insights as to how you can take that next step from an average culture to a premier destination for students and potential job candidates.

Action Items
  • Dig into the data. A score in this range can mean you are consistently meeting expectations across the board, or it can mean your otherwise sparkling culture is being damaged by one or two areas of your organization. Take a look at which categories came in the lowest and review the corresponding sub-analyses below.
  • Build your brand. It's tough to establish a sustainable, recognizable culture if your message and priorities are always changing. Consider collaborating on a full-tilt branding effort with all stakeholders. What does your district stand for, how does that translate to everyday interactions, and how can you communicate that value in a simple, memorable way?
  • Focus on continuous improvement. Complacency is the bane of great culture. Consider documenting a process for internal review, feedback, and suggestions. A high performing culture leads to cost savings, job satisfaction, and - most importantly - a better experience for your students.
 
120-150: Rarefied Air
Summary
Amazing work by you and your team. You should all be proud. There are few districts anywhere that can lay claim to such an overwhelmingly positive culture, but we're willing to bet it shows in the achievement of your students and the passion of your team. Well done!

Action Items
  • Promote your ideals. Assuming you have safeguards in place to prevent stagnation, the most important thing you can do now is share your story and be a champion for positive school cultures everywhere. When you're in the thick of an environment as exhilarating as yours, it can be easy to forget how many districts are struggling to reach that level. Every person who chooses to work in education and every student who walks through a hallway deserves to do so in a culture like yours.
 


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